May 24th, 2024

B.C. asks Health Canada to make drug use in public illegal again

By The Canadian Press on April 26, 2024.

The British Columbia government is asking Health Canada to "urgently change" the decriminalization policy to stop drug use in public. B.C. Premier David Eby listens during an announcement in a greenhouse in Delta, B.C., on Monday, March 18, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER – The British Columbia government is asking Health Canada to “urgently change” the province’s decriminalization policy to stop drug use in public.

Premier David Eby says in a statement the change would make illicit drug use illegal in all public spaces, including inside hospitals, on transit and in parks.

The U-turn by the provincial government comes after repeated criticisms about the decriminalization polices from local politicians, health workers and police about open drug use in public spaces.

The province had tried to make drug use illegal in public places with its own legislation, but a B.C. Supreme Court judge put in place an injunction preventing that, and Eby says they’ve now asked for the same changes from Health Canada.

The change would mean guidance will be given to police to “only arrest” people for simple possession in “exceptional circumstances.”

The government says the change would not recriminalize drug possession in private homes or places where someone is legally sheltering, along with overdose prevention sites and locations with drug-checking services.

The province says the changes are among several new measures that focus on providing police with more tools to address public safety while “offering support and access to treatment for people living with addictions.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 26, 2024.

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